Glade Springs was only a 10 minute drive from our hotel which was just off the interstate. The resort is located just off of I-77 and I-64 so those traveling from the surrounding states don’t have to go too far out of the way to get there. Like many other resorts there are activities for the whole family and while the community is upscale, it still seems reasonably priced for a visit. They have a good rate for stay and play packages that we didn’t take advantage of (because I’m so particular about the courses that I play). I made a stop at Glade Springs last year and played the Stonehaven course on my way to Kentucky. Since then, I have been wanting to get back to play the other two courses.
The first thing I should mention about the Woodhaven course is getting there. I thought that all three courses could be accessed from the same parking lot, but the Woodhaven course is located about three or four miles away from the others. We had to backtrack a bit to get to the course and it takes about 10 minutes to there if someone knows what they are doing. The staff was helpful, but I have a short memory when it comes to directions and got lost. So, signs for the course could be bigger or there could be a paragraph on the website. We ended up seeing some monster homes before finally getting over to the course a few minutes past our tee time.
It didn’t matter that we were late though. The poor weather kept people away and there were only a few cars in the parking lot. When I loaded a couple things into the car at the hotel before we left I knew that the weather was going to be miserable for golf. It was cold, the wind was up, and there were off and on showers throughout the morning. We hit a few chips and putts before shivering over way to the first tee.
The Woodhaven course, which was finished in 2010, is the newest golf course at Glade Springs. I mentioned Tom Clark a few weeks back in my review of Country Club of Culpeper, and he designed both the Woodhaven and Stonehaven courses. The Woodhaven course has a similar feel to Stonehaven because it is routed through the trees, has some elevation change, and incorporates the natural surroundings into the design. We played the blue tees which play 73.0/143/6529, and based on the numbers, the Woodhaven course is shorter and tougher (at least from the blues). I’d say that was accurate after playing both and it felt like the Woodhaven course was designed to be a player’s course. The course played tougher because of the weather, but it still seemed like there were a couple holes that were designed for tour caliber players only.
The course isn’t the most demanding off the tee, considering its location in the West Virginia mountains. There are some elevated tees and even with those, I wasn’t standing on the tees worrying. The fairways are generous, and there is some room off them to find a ball on many holes. The course is one of those that gets progressively more difficult from tee to green. The greens are very small and have plenty of trouble around them. Plus, there is an incredible amount of slope around the greens. Many times, a bailout spot around the green resulted in an almost impossible chip to get close unless it landed in the fringe.
Clark mixed up most things about the course pretty good. The par 4’s ranged from 279 to 447 yards, a couple par 5’s are reachable, and I hit four different clubs on the par 3’s. There are uphill and downhill holes which allow for nice views and holes of similar distances play differently. There are some unique features which include a split fairway, some rock outcroppings, and a plethora of grass bunkers. My guess is that people complained about how difficult the course was and then many bunkers were filled in. Visually, all the grass bunkers didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the course. But, when it comes to playability and the fact that bunkers can be the worst maintained part of a course, I didn’t mind the grass ones. Finally, the best thing about the course is that it has at least a half dozen signature holes that are interesting to play.
Every compliment in the world should go to the maintenance crew as the course was in fantastic shape! Apparently the area has received a lot more rain than normal this year. I have no idea how the greens rolled as fast as they did or how the fairways were so dry. Only the low spots in the fairways were squishy so I always had a nice lie in the closely mown fairways. I looked silly on the greens as I ran putts from five feet the same distance past the hole. They were lightning fast and I had to match the pace and line perfect or my putt had no chance of falling.
For the $50 that I paid, Woodhaven is an awesome course because of the thought that I had to put into playing some of the holes. However, I think that it is too difficult for the average golfer, at least inside of 150 yards. If someone isn’t hitting good irons or having a good day around the greens then they aren’t going to have much fun. Plus, I think that the course is marred by a few poorly designed holes with some big forced carries. It seemed that a hole was either really good or really bad without much in-between. Clark’s other design at the resort, Stonehaven, gets my vote for being the best course on the property because it offers the same feel while being slightly more playable.
#1 (387 yard par 4):
The opening tee shot is very fair. When we played the hole was into the wind so we could barely get to the grass bunkers on the left. For most golfers, the best play is going to out to the right to avoid them. From from the fairway, a solid approach shouldn’t have any trouble carrying a bunker that is about 20 yards short of the green. If playing from the rough then it could come into play. I missed my approach short and right which left a simple chip, but make sure to leave it below the hole.
#2 (356 yard par 4):
This is a short, position hole where it is important to match the distance and line off the tee. The fairway slopes from left to right so the bunker on the left could catch a tee shot if someone favors that side. The green angles a little to the right which allows for a good chance to hit a short iron close from the sloping fairway.
#3 (382 yard par 4):
This tee shot is semi-blind, but the the fairway is plenty wide for a driver. A good line is out over that grass bunker before the approach is played over a valley to the green. Be careful as there is water down in that valley. The green is elevated and slopes from back to front so it is going to be a tricky short game shot from anywhere around it. A miss short can leave a blind chip while a miss long leaves a very delicate, downhill chip. I missed it a few yards over the back edge, hit an average chip, and it rolled into the fringe on the other side of the green.
#4 (487 yard par 5):
Even though I didn’t play this hole well, I think that it is one of the best holes on the course. Slopes on both sides of the fairway feed the ball into play but the fairway does run out at the bottom of the hill. I’d check the GPS but I think it runs out around 275 yards off the tee. If the tee shot ends up in a flat part of the fairway someone has a chance to get to the green in two. If going for the green, the second shot plays over a rise to a green that narrows because of the angle. There is trouble around the green too so it is a risky shot even from just over 200 yards. A layup played out to the right of that fairway bunker should leave a great angle for the third.
#5 (185 yard par 3):
I think that this would be one of the more scenic holes on the course even if the trees were not changing colors. The rock outcroppings add a natural look and the 6th hole can be seen off in the distance. This is a long par 3 that plays from an elevated tee to a green that requires a solid shot to hold it. There is some room to miss anywhere but left and still have a chance at a par but the green falls off on the right and over the back. The hole played about a club and a half down the hill for me.
#6 (279 yard par 4):
This is another great risk/reward hole that follows closely on the heels of the 4th. This is a short par 4 that plays downhill with trouble all down the left. A mid iron is probably all that is needed off the tee if laying up but it is going to be tempting to hit a driver. I don’t think that driver is a bad play because if it can carry that bunker to the right in the picture then the ball has a good chance of kicking forward and left onto the green. For those that are laying up, the fairway slopes to the left and the controlling the spin on a wedge could be tricky because the green slopes from back to front.
#7 (167 yard par 3):
This is a nice looking par 3. It plays a bit downhill to a small green which puts an emphasis on hitting it solid. There spots to bailout long and right but the chip will need to be precise to get it close.
#8 (447 yard par 4):
This is the hardest hole on the course and I’d be happy with a bogey every time. This hole could be unplayable for the average golfer so keep that in mind when playing here. The green is to the left of the picture that I took off the tee so most golfers are going to be playing out to the right of the ravine. Some big hitters could probably hit a high draw and end up in the rough that is hidden from view. The tendency for everyone else is going to be favoring the right center of the fairway to avoid a harsh kick to the left. That leaves a 200+ yard shot into the green without any place to lay it up over the ravine. The hole seems to be designed for a scratch golfer and takes away course management for most golfers.
#9 (548 yard par 5):
This is a pretty good par 5. The tee shot should be threaded between two fairway bunkers before more come into play on the layup. It is important to challenge the bunkers on the layup because they are at the top of a hill. Playing from the top of the hill gives a clear view of the green that is guarded by water to the left. I didn’t hit a good layup and had a completely blind shot into the green.
#10 (495 yard par 5):
This is one of the best holes on the course. It is a short par 5 with a split fairway. I played it down the left fairway over the bunker and got it up near the green in two. The longer hitters can probably get to the right fairway off the tee depending on where the tees are located. The second or third shot is uphill and short and left of the green is the best spot to play from.
#11 (427 yard par 4):
This is one of the signature holes at the Woodhaven course and offers some of the best views at the resort. It is a decent length par 4 but it plays downhill. The main thing to know when playing the hole is that the fairway runs out around 235 to 250 yards. I generally don’t like long par 4’s where I am forced to layup off the tee, but because it plays downhill I had just a mid iron into the green after a 3 wood off the tee. The green complex is another one of those where playing to the bailout area (right of the green) leaves a fast, downhill chip.
#12 (153 yard par 3):
This is a short par 3 that drops at least a club and maybe more. A ball landing just short of the green is going to leave a blind chip to get up to the green, but it should be playable. I hit it over the green and had one of those chips from a downhill lie to a green that sloped away from me. It is another hole where distance control is important.
#13 (416 yard par 4):
The 13th starts a stretch of four par 4’s. There are some grass bunkers to the left of the fairway and a bunker down the right side. The second shot is most demanding shot on the hole because it plays uphill and over a hazard. The hazard could come into play if someone is in a bad spot off the tee. The best place to chip from is short and right of the green because of the angle. I missed short and left, had a poor angle, and could only see the top of the flag on my pitch from 20 yards away.
#14 (420 yard par 4):
This is another one of my favorite holes on the course! The tee shot is semi-blind but the fairway is down in a valley so it is easier to hit than it looks. The hole moves to the left so a tee shot down the left side is best, plus that will avoid a fairway bunker on the right. The approach is played into a green that has a natural earth wall to the left of it which could cause some quirky bounces. The pin was on a back left tier which required a laser like iron to get close. I think that it is a fun and fair hole.
#15 (320 yard par 4):
This is the second shortest par 4 on the course. I guess it could be driven by the longest hitters, but it plays a bit uphill and there is trouble down the left side. There are bunkers to avoid with a 200 to 230 yard club off the tee and then the approach is played to the most interesting green on the course. The green has a large swale in the middle that is about four feet lower than the front and back sections. If the pin is down there it should be a great birdie chance. If the pin is in the front or back then someone might have to get creative trying to get an approach or a chip close. Personally, I like odd greens on short par 4’s but some may think that the hole is a bit tricked up.
#16 (376 yard par 4):
This hole is similar to the 13th because it plays uphill and moves to the right. I played my second shot out to the right which was the conservative play with the left flag. From there, I had an uphill putt that broke about three feet on its way to a tier on the left side of the green.
#17 (160 yard par 3):
This is one of the more open holes on the course. The green is wide, so distance control is important. A miss pin high left or right is better than short or long. If someone is hitting their irons well then it could be a short birdie chance.
#18 (524 yard par 5):
The closing hole is one of the weakest on the course, at least in my opinion. It looks like fun because the fairway snakes uphill to the green, but the severe uphill lie for the third shot was too much for me to like. I don’t mind having to hit a good drive and a good layup for clear view of the green or a flat lie. Here, even after a good drive and layup I had one of the most awkward stances in a fairway that I’ve had in years. There wasn’t any place that I could play to for a flat lie either. The green is narrow and slopes from back to front so putting from below the hole is best.